BREAST HEALTH DEFINITIONS
Adenoma: A benign tumor made up of glandular tissue.
Adenocarcinoma: A cancer that develops in gland-forming tissue. Most breast cancers are adenocarcinomas.
Areola: The circular area around the nipple on the breast, typically darker than the rest of the breast.
Architectural Distortion: Indicates that the breast parenchyma is tethered or indented. The breast tissue looks different, not clearly defined as a mass.
Asymmetry: Lack of symmetry; could mean overlapping tissue.
Asymptomatic: Medical condition which is silent, has no symptoms.
Atypical Cell: Mild to moderately abnormal cell when viewed under the microscope, not malignant.
Axillary Lymph Nodes: Lymph nodes found in the armpit. Tumor in these nodes portends a high risk of recurrence.
Benign: Not cancerous.
Bilateral: Involving both sides, such as both breasts.
Biopsy: The removal of a sample of abnormal tissue that is microscopically examined for cancer cells.
Calcifications: Calcium deposits in the breast which can be either benign or malignant.
Core Biopsy: Removal of a sample of tissue, using a wide needle, to see if cancer cells are present.
Cyst: A fluid-filled sac, usually benign. Complicated cysts are cloudy and usually seen better on Ultrasound. Simple cysts are clear and seen better on Ultrasound.
Density: Lack of fatty tissue in the breasts.
Excisional Biopsy: Tumor or mass is removed from the breast, and cut into thin sections that are microscopically studied to see if cancer cells are present.
Fat Necrosis: Term for how the breast heals from an injury to normal fatty breast tissue. Fat necrosis can be the result of trauma such as a car accident or surgery, or the injury may have been so minor that a woman may not remember the particular event. It can appear any time… even years after the injury. It represents a type of normal healing and never turns into breast cancer.
Fibroadenoma: A benign tumor composed of fibrous tissue.
Fibrocystic Breast Disease: Term used to describe a benign breast condition.
Fibrocystic Changes: Another form of normal breast tissue that may have a confusing appearance on imaging that prompts biopsy. It refers to a combination of tiny cysts and connective tissue.
Heterogeneous: Of unlike natures; composed of unlike substances; the opposite of homogeneous.
Implant in place/displaced: During a Screening Mammogram, women with implants have 4 extra pictures taken, 2 on each breast. These extra pictures are called Implant displacement views. The implants are pushed back and the breast is pulled forward. These photos allow the radiologist to compare images with the breast implants in place and displaced.
Incisional Biopsy: Removes only a portion of the tumor for pathology to examine, generally reserved for larger tumors.
Lymph Node: Glands found throughout the body along lymphatic channels which defend the body from bacteria or other foreign invaders. If cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes, they are an indication that the cancer may have spread beyond the breast.
Lymphadenopathy: Enlargement of lymph nodes.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A technique that uses a powerful magnet linked to a computer to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body.
Mammogram: A low dose x-ray of the breast.
Mass: An area of abnormal breast tissue with a shape and edges that make it look different than the rest of the breast tissue on a mammogram. A mass might be seen with or without calcifications.
Mastectomy: The surgical removal of the breast. Simple mastectomy involves the removal of the entire breast; radical mastectomy involves the removal of the entire breast along with underlying muscle and lymph nodes of the armpit.
Mastitis: Infection of the breast, sometimes used loosely to refer to any inflammation in the breast.
Mastodynia: Pain in the breast.
Melanoma: A cancer of the pigment-forming cells of the skin or the retina of the eye.
Metastasis: The spread of cancer beyond the primary site of the cancer, and beyond the axillary nodes.
Microcalcifications: Small deposits of calcium in the breast, which can show up on a mammogram. Certain patterns of microcalcifications are sometimes a sign of breast cancer.
Prognosis: A prediction about the possible outcome of a disease.
Tomosynthesis: 3D picture of the breast using x-rays.
X-ray: Low doses of this type of radiation that penetrates tissue are used to diagnose disease, high doses are used to treat cancer.